Most fans were very optimistic about the young San Diego Chargers defense heading into the season. However, through the first five games, the Chargers defense couldn’t stop anyone as injuries, depth issues, and poor execution meant that the Chargers pretty much needed a perfect game from Philip Rivers to even have a chance.
Things looked like they’d only get worse when their only legitimate pass rusher Dwight Freeney went down with a season-ending quadriceps injury. On top of that, Donald Butler has been out with a groin injury, their secondary had been struggling mightily, and there was no depth at just about every position on defense.
What has happened the last ten quarters though is simply unreal given the circumstances. The Chargers defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown since before halftime in their Week 5 matchup against the Oakland Raiders. They’ve held their last two opponents, the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars, out of the endzone entirely, and appear to finally be hitting their stride at the right time.
A lot of the credit has to go to defensive coordinator John Pagano, who is making it work with little on defense. When the talent pool is as shallow and depth deficient as it is for the Bolts right now, coaching has to be top-notch to be playing the way the Chargers defense has been playing the last two games. Against the Colts, Pagano did an excellent job drawing up with some creative blitzes to disrupt Andrew Luck, who never seemed to get into a rhythm all game. And against the Jaguars, who, well, are admittedly bottom feeders in the NFL, the Chargers managed to notch six sacks and limit Justin Blackmon, who entered the game averaging 163 yards per game.
Given the overall lack of depth, it’s difficult to expect similar numbers moving forward, particularly with the Denver Broncos still twice on the schedule. However, Pagano is proving to be an excellent coach and understands how to put his players in the best positions to be successful. And with Rivers dominating on offense, the Bolts only need at least a little bit of defense to be competitive in every game for the remainder of the season.